Johannesburg - At least 250 games from the Google Play Store are using Android smartphone microphones to track users’ TV habits.
According to a report by The New York Times, numerous mobile game apps are using the microphones of devices to listen to what content is being viewed on TVs while an app is open.
The New York Times reported that the apps use software from a company called Alphonso, which collects TV-viewing data for advertising companies.
The software, which is embedded in numerous games from the Play Store, identifies audio signals from TV adverts and collates information to create more targeted advertising for users.
Results yielded from a search on the Play Store for alphonso automated applications reveal a list of games that include the software.
Among the games, top results include Beer Pong: Trickshot, Honey Quest and a variety of sporting games such as Tennis 3D, Cricket 3D and Pool 3D.
When installed, each of the games requests access to the device’s microphone, which many users unwillingly allow in order to play the game.
However, numerous apps downloaded from the iOS and Google Play Store already request permission to access unnecessary smartphone features.
A simple Flashlight app by Lighthouse, which is the top search result for a mobile 'torch' on Google Play, requests arbitrary permission not required for its purpose such as ‘precise location’ (GPS and network-based), access to the contents of user’s USB storage and access to take pictures and videos.
An application such as the popular Facebook app already accesses other smartphone applications to provide more targeted advertising for users while using the app.